Absolute power, corrupts absolutely.
Watching the wheels of state government grind through the 51st session of the Legislature and conclude last month, we saw one glaring example of Lord Acton’s famous 1870 statement opposing a doctrine of papal infallibility.
The majority of the legislature together with Gov. Jan Brewer’s approved a law to strip the state Clean Elections Commission of its authority to oversee the behavior of elected officials, including those who did not campaign with public funds.
That provision was included in the 1998 Clean Elections Act, which Arizona voters adopted in the hope that public financing and an overseeing organization would keep the state’s campaigns and its officials abiding the law.
The ink from Brewer’s pen has barely dried and already there is a need for an agency to step forward and investigate Attorney General Tom Horne.
Last week a former employee in Horne’s office announced a complaint that the attorney general is directing the state’s top legal office like a campaign re-election headquarters. Law at every level prohibits elected candidates from using taxpayer resources to seek re-election.
According to a story in the Arizona Republic, the attorney for former employee, Susan Beattie, is quoted as saying “Mr. Horne has effectively turned the executive office of the Attorney General’s office into his personal campaign headquarters and we are largely paying for his staff to run his re-election campaign.”
Horne denies the allegation, and at this juncture, the future of Beattie’s complaint is questionable.
Because unless one of three parties steps forward with the political backbone to take charge of an investigation into Horne’s activities, the complaint will fade away like the allegations made last year that the attorney general was in the crosshairs of an FBI investigation.
Those parties include Maricopa County prosecutor Bill Montgomery, the Secretary of State’s office, and lastly, the Clean Elections Commission, until the recently passed law takes effect.
Two of those parties are compromised. The commission, due to its questionable future of oversight authority, and the Secretary of State, which is required to refer all complaints to … you guessed it, the Attorney General.
Beattie resigned from the state office after she said she feared for her own legal standing, while watching the activities of the Attorney General and believing that they are in violation of state law.
But without any oversight authority, we would not be surprised to see this complaint fade away, and Horne once again to keep his political career alive.